Indian Journal of Urology Users online:1579  
Home Current Issue Ahead of print Editorial Board Archives Symposia Guidelines Subscriptions Login 
Print this page  Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size

Year : 2007  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 471-473

Para aortic ganglioneuroma presenting as Cushing's syndrome

Department of Urology, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, India

Correspondence Address:
P T Ravi Chander
Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-1591.36725

Rights and Permissions


We present a case of an eight-year-old female presenting with four months history of progressive weight gain, short stature, obesity, mild acanthosis, moon facies and buffalo hump. Biochemically, low-dose and high-dose Dexamethasone tests were not suppressible, ACTH was raised and 24h urinary metanephrines were normal. The CECT scan showed a 3cm paraganglioma. Tumor was excised via 11 th rib transcostal approach and the mass was found arising from the sympathetic chain. Histopathology was suggestive of ganglioneuroma positive for ACTH immunostaining.

Keywords: Cushing′s syndrome, ectopic ACTH, ganglioneuroma, para aortic

How to cite this article:
Reddy S J, Purushottam G, Pandurangarao K, Ravi Chander P T. Para aortic ganglioneuroma presenting as Cushing's syndrome. Indian J Urol 2007;23:471-3

How to cite this URL:
Reddy S J, Purushottam G, Pandurangarao K, Ravi Chander P T. Para aortic ganglioneuroma presenting as Cushing's syndrome. Indian J Urol [serial online] 2007 [cited 2022 Sep 30];23:471-3. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Association of Cushing's syndrome with ganglioneuroma is very rare. Ganglioneuromas may be hormonally active. Hypertension, diarrhea, flushing and virilization may occur as a result of the secretion of catecholamines, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide or androgenic hormones. This case is presented due to its extreme rarity.

   Case Report Top

An eight-year-old female [Figure - 1] presented with progressive weight gain since four months and increased appetite. There was no history of decreased visual acuity, diplopia or features suggestive of hypothyroidism. No proximal muscle weakness was noted. Her height was 127cm, weight 32kg (wt. age 9.5y) and BMI was 19.84. She has mild acanthosis, moon facies, double chin, buffalo hump and spinal tenderness over the lower thoracic spine. She had high blood pressure (170/90). Systemic examination was normal. Her hormonal profile [Table - 1] showed an insuppressible LDDST and HDDST, high serum ACTH and normal 24h urinary metanephrines.

The CT scan abdomen [Figure - 2] showed a dense mass lesion measuring 3.2 x 2.6 x 6 cm in the para aortic region arising at the interpolar region of the left kidney, had a speck of calcification. With IV contrast, tumor showed enhancement and arterial blush, suggestive of paraganglioma. Both the adrenals were normal.

Through 11 th rib transcostal retroperitoneal approach a 6 x 4 cm tumor [Figure - 3] at the level of L3 L4 adherent to sympathetic chain, abutting the aorta and psoas muscle with blood supply being derived directly from aorta was completely excised [Figure - 3]. Postoperative period was uneventful.

Grossly this grayish white nodular mass was homogeneous on cut section. Microscopically tumor was encapsulated showing proliferation of spindle Schwannian cells in short fascicles. Ganglion cells were conspicuous in between, scattered in small aggregates [Figure - 4]. Spherules of calcification were present. No neuroblastoma component could be identified. Features were in favor of a ganglioneuroma. Immunostaining for ACTH was positive [Figure - 4].

Two lymph nodes included showed mild reactive changes with no evidence of metastases.

Final diagnosis was an ectopic ACTH-secreting para aortic ganglioneuroma Stage 1(INNS International Neuroblastoma staging system) [1] causing Cushing's syndrome.


Follow-up period was six months. Clinically, the patient lost 6kg in weight, showed improvement in her daily performance. Biochemically, serum ACTH and cortisol levels were normal at the end of one month post op. Patient is off the antihypertensives. Monthly follow-up during the first postoperative year was planned to detect early recurrence if any.

   Discussion Top

Ganglioneuromas originate from neural crest sympathogonia (undifferentiated cells of the sympathetic nervous system). Neuroblastomas, ganglioneuromas and ganglioneuroblastomas are collectively known as neuroblastic tumors. [2]

These tumors may show hormonal activity. Hypertension, diarrhea, flushing and virilization may occur as a result of the secretion of catecholamines, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide or androgenic hormone. [2] Though these tumors have the machinery to produce any peptide hormone, production of other than catecholamines, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide or androgenic hormones is very rare. Occasional reports of ACTH/CRH-producing ganglioneuromas presenting clinically as Cushing's syndrome were reported.

Most frequently these tumors occur in the abdomen. Common locations include the adrenal gland, paraspinal retroperitoneum (sympathetic ganglia), posterior mediastinum, head and neck. Locations such as the urinary bladder, bowel wall, abdominal wall and gallbladder were considered unusual.

Ganglioneuromas are rare, benign, fully differentiated tumors that contain mature Schwann cells, ganglion cells, fibrous tissue and nerve fibers. [3] These tumors do not show immature elements (such as neuroblasts), atypia, mitotic figures, intermediate cells or necrosis. These tumors can arise de novo or result from the maturation of a ganglioneuroblastoma or a neuroblastoma into a ganglioneuroma. [3]

Ganglioneuromas are staged using the INSS (International Neuroblastoma Staging System). [3] Treatment is usually in the form of surgical excision for localized non metastatic tumors. Overall, patients with ganglioneuroma have a favorable prognosis.

Cushing's syndrome due to ectopic ACTH production poses diagnostic challenges by mimicking the pituitary-dependent form of Cushing's syndrome. Ectopic ACTH syndrome has a slight female predominance. Bronchial carcinoid, Islet cell cancer, Small cell carcinoma lung, medullary thyroid carcinoma were among the common etiologies. [4],[5]

The first case report of ectopic ACTH syndrome induced by an extra adrenal abdominal paraganglioma (pheochromocytoma) has been reported in 2005. [6] The present case is unique as this is an ectopic ACTH-producing para aortic ganglioneuroma causing Cushing's syndrome, first of its kind to be reported.

   Acknowledgement Top

We would like to thank Dr. Jagadeeswar, MCh; Dr. S.Srinivas, MCh; Dr. DVSRK Prasad, MCh; Dr. Gupta, Dr. Radha krishnan, Dr. SML Prakash Babu, Dr. Hariprasada Rao, Dr. Ramana Murthy Department of Urology, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad. Department of Endocrinology, Osmania General Hospital, Department of Pathology, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, for their participation in the management of the case.

   References Top

1.Shimada H, Umehara S, Monobe Y, Hachitanda Y, Nakagawa A, Goto S, et al . International neuroblastoma pathology classification for prognostic evaluation of patients with peripheral neuroblastic tumors: A report from the Children's Cancer Group. Cancer 2001;92:2451-61.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
2.Geoerger B, Hero B, Harms D, Grebe J, Scheidhauer K, Berthold F. Metabolic activity and clinical features of primary ganglioneuromas. Cancer 2001;91:1905-13.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
3.Joshi VV. Peripheral neuroblastic tumors: Pathologic classification based on recommendations of international neuroblastoma pathology committee (Modification of shimada classification). Pediatr Dev Pathol 2000;3:184-99.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
4.Aniszewski JP, Young WF, Thompson GB, Grant CS, van Heerden JA. Cushing syndrome due to ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone secretion. World J Surg 2001;25:934-40.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Isidori AM, Kaltsas GA, Pozza C, Frajese V, Newell-Price J, Reznek RH, et al . The ectopic adrenocorticotropin syndrome: Clinical features, diagnosis, management and long term follow-up. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006;91:371-7.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
6.Otsuka F, Miyoshi T, Murakami K, Inagaki K, Takeda M, Ujike K, et al . An extra adrenal abdominal Pheochromocytoma causing ectopic ACTH syndrome. Am J Hypertens 2005;18:1364-8.  Back to cited text no. 6  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]


  [Figure - 1], [Figure - 2], [Figure - 3], [Figure - 4]

  [Table - 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Hormone-secreting large adrenal ganglioneuroma in an adult patient: A case report and review of literature
Cihangir Erem, Mehmet Fidan, Nadim Civan, Umit Cobanoglu, Fevzi Kangul, Irfan Nuhoglu, Etem Alhan
Blood Pressure. 2014; 23(1): 64
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Hypercortisolaemia due to ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone secretion by a nasal paraganglioma: a case report and review of the literature
Theodoros Thomas,Steffen Zender,Christoph Terkamp,Elmar Jaeckel,Michael P Manns
BMC Research Notes. 2013; 6(1): 331
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article


   Next article
   Previous article 
   Table of Contents
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Article in PDF (116 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Case Report
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded167    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal